By: Lexington Medical Center’s Laura Stepp, MA RD LD CDE
Every New Year’s Eve millions of people think about or do make a resolution. But, what is a resolution? According to the Merrian-Webster dictionary, a resolution is “the act of resolving” something. Resolving is further described as “the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones.”
Often when people make a New Year’s Resolution they resolve to change something big or to do something great, better, or more. While everyone’s resolutions are genuine and meant to be helpful to either self or community, a resolution to do something big such as run a marathon, do a triathlon, walk 10,000 steps a day, or the #1 resolution – to Lose Weight or Be Healthier – often ends up unachieved. What starts out with so much enthusiasm at the beginning of the year generally fades by February or March. We see it all the time; the health clubs are crowded so you wait in line for the treadmill or stationary bike and the exercise classes are full.
Unfortunately by February and (definitely by March) the health club is almost empty. Why do we see this? What happened? Did everyone just give up on all those resolutions? Did they decide losing weight or being healthier isn’t important? Of course not! They likely forgot the definition of resolution: “The act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones”.
We have to be SMART about our resolutions in order to achieve them. Like everything we do, there are steps to achievement.
SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Time Bound
Here is an example. You resolve to Change your Diet to Be Healthier:
Specific: What about your diet do you want to change or improve? Decide what this means for you. It could mean:
- Cut back on portion sizes
- Eat less processed food
- Eat out less often
- Eat less fast food
- Eat more vegetables and/or fruit?
Then state exactly what you want to change. For example,
“I will switch my chips at lunch for vegetables”.
“I will eat fruit versus something sweet/candy for a snack”
Measurable: Give your goal a numeric value. For example,
“Daily, I will consume ½ cup chopped vegetables with my sandwich.”
“I will add one extra serving of vegetables to my dinner.”
“I will bring my lunch to work three times a week.”
Attainable: Think small – one change at a time. Work on one meal at a time, one day at a time. Making more than one change every 3-4 days can become overwhelming which can lead to all good intentions being abandoned.
Realistic: Honestly ask your self, “Can I do this?” And, state your change, your new habit in a positive manner. For example:
“I am going to eat one piece of fruit once a day for lunch or afternoon for a snack instead of chips or cookies.”
“I am going to add one new vegetable weekly.”
“Every week I am going to experiment with one new vegetable, preparing it in different ways to see how many ways I can enjoy it.”
Time Bound: Set a firm time limit to achieve a goal and gauge your progress. For instance, consider making one change a week. You could keep a food log for one week to check your progress. When you have accomplished the initial goal then set a new goal to build on the one you have accomplished.
Changing one’s lifestyle is a journey and must be treated like a long term adventure. Breaking down a goal into manageable parts makes it easier to see progress and stay motivated. It also allows to adjustments when necessary.
Be SMART and have a Happy New Year!
If you are interested in having help with your healthy nutrition goals, contact Laura Stepp, Outpatient Dietitian, at 936-4132.